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Kingdom Hearts II OST

[back cover]
Catalog Number: TOCT-25871/2
Released On: January 25, 2006
Composed By: Yoko Shimomura, Hikaru Utada, Alan Menken, Jimmie Dodd, Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman, Klaus Badelt, Geoffrey Zanelli, Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, Nobuo Uematsu
Arranged By: Yoko Shimomura, Kaoru Wada
Published By: Toshiba-EMI
Recorded At: Unknown
Format: 2 CDs
Buy this album from CDJapan
Tracklist:

Disc One
01 - Dearly Beloved
02 - Passion -KINGDOM Orchestra Instrumental Version-
03 - Passion ~opening version~
04 - Lazy Afternoons
05 - Sinister Sundown
06 - The Escapade
07 - Dive into the Heart -Destati-
08 - Fragments of Sorrow
09 - Tension Rising
10 - Kairi
11 - Missing You
12 - The 13th Struggle
13 - Roxas
14 - Sora
15 - The Afternoon Street
16 - Working Together
17 - Friends in my Heart
18 - Magical Mystery
19 - A Twinkle in the Sky
20 - Reviving Hollow Bastion
21 - Scherzo Di Notte
22 - Laughter and Merriment
23 - Desire for All That Lost
24 - Organization XIII
25 - Gearing Up
26 - Shipmeisters' Rhapsody
27 - Blast Off!
28 - Asteroids Away!
29 - Crossing the Finish Line
30 - Waltz of the Damned
31 - Dance of the Daring
32 - Hesitation
33 - Dance to the Death
34 - Beauty and the Beast
35 - The Home of Dragons
36 - Fields of Honor
37 - Apprehension
38 - Vim and Vigor
39 - Cloudchasers
40 - Olympus Coliseum
41 - The Underworld
42 - What Lies Beneath
43 - Villains of a Sort
44 - Rowdy Rumble
45 - Mickey Mouse Club March
46 - A Walk in Andante
47 - Monochrome Dreams
48 - Old Friends, Old Rivals
49 - Floating in Bliss
50 - Winnie the Pooh
51 - Bounce-O-Rama (Speed up ver.)
Total Time:
74'57"

Disc Two
01 - Isn't It Lovely?
02 - Let's Sing and Dance!
03 - Swim This Way
04 - Part of Your World
05 - Under The Sea
06 - Ursula's Revenge
07 - A New Day is Dawning
08 - Nights of the Cursed
09 - He's a Pirate
10 - The Corrupted
11 - Hazardous Highway
12 - A Day in Agrabah
13 - Arabian Dream
14 - This is Halloween
15 - Spooks of Halloween Town
16 - Adventures in the Savannah
17 - Savannah Pride
18 - The Encounter
19 - Space Paranoids
20 - Byte Bashing
21 - Sinister Shadows
22 - The 13th Dilemma
23 - Showdown at Hollow Bastion
24 - One-Winged Angel (from Final Fantasy VII)
25 - Battleship Bravery
26 - Sacred Moon
27 - Deep Drive
28 - Riku
29 - Courage
30 - Disappeared
31 - A Fight to the Death
32 - Darkness of the Unknown
33 - Passion ~after the battle~
34 - Fantasia alla marcia for piano, chorus and orchestra
35 - Destiny Islands
36 - Hand in Hand
37 - Dark Horizons
38 - Dearly Beloved -Reprise-
Total Time:
74'39"

I wasn't too great a fan of the original Kingdom Hearts, nor its music. It often felt too understated or quiet, too willing to be soft and boring. Little outside of the opening song caught my attention, and it's a shame too, since music is such a huge part of what makes a game. Thankfully, this has changed with Kingdom Hearts II, even with the repeat tracks from the first game and Chain of Memories.

The sequel more than makes up for its predecessor's lack of aural attraction. "Passion" will be, doubtless, the most celebrated track of the album merely for being the opening. I have to say, I much prefer it to Simple and Clean. It has a more mature sound and catchier rhythm to it. Don't get me wrong, I liked Simple and Clean, but Passion is definitely the finer piece.

A soundtrack is not about its opening theme however. Many of the ambient tracks have a playful feel to them, while maintaining the epic sound I've been expecting of this game. "Dearly Beloved" is an excellent opening piece from the first disc and carries a nostalgic theme of romance, building upon itself as it goes on. It starts very lightly, subtly layering intensity while maintaining its romantic lull. It's a track I could listen to time and again.

Amongst other favourites, I quite enjoy Scherzo Di Notte, which has an urgent, military feel to it, though not without the classic musical tones signature to this album. One might imagine racing through a castle while this plays in the background, or hastily preparing for an important mission. I imagine that's exactly the effect the composer wanted as well.

There are also a few tracks which recall famous Disney pieces such as "Beauty and the Beast," which receives a 46-second instrumental recap, probably for the intruduction of said film characters in game. It's not a long track, but it brings back good childhood memories and fits perfectly in the game.

One other track that made me chuckle was "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid. It's sung in Japanese, which sounds completely strange to my ears. Mind you, I'm familiar with Japanese, but hearing a song of my childhood sung in Japanese is bizarre. A good rendition though, and certainly longer than Beauty and the Beast at 2:05.

There are certain tracks on the album which make me raise a brow and ask "why" on occassion. These aren't truly bad pieces, but I'm sure they'll sound better in game than they do on their own. One such piece is the Mickey Mouse Club March, which gets the regimental band treatment, complete with snare drums and silver flute. It's not a bad track, but I wonder if it isn't bordering a little too much on advertisement.

Other tribute tracks of note include One Winged Angel, which any Square-Enix fan can recognize from Final Fantasy VII and via its remake in FFVII: Advent Children. This remix has less intense bass but still comes across as an epic piece, sure to get long-time FF fans cheering. It clocks in at 2:12, down from 4:23 minutes of the original and 6:07 of the Advent Children remake. Although short, it's still very enjoyable.

The attention paid to creating an epic score, but without the usual dark dramatics of series' such as Final Fantasy, certainly shows. Yoko Shimomura is probably best known for her work on the previous Kingdom Hearts amd her sound has evolved quite a bit from the original. She manages to balance the epic scope of the world with the more optimistic ideals professed by the characters, resulting in something compelling, yet hopeful.

Other contributors on the list include composer Kaoru Wada, known for his work on the TV series InuYasha, and as I mentioned before, artist Hikaru Utada. Utada is known worldwide for having a romantic yet upbeat flavor, something which works especially well in both renditions of Passion on the disc. I personally prefer the regular rendition, but "~after the battle~" is a great reprisal. There's something very charming about Utada's voice, regardless of the music being fast or slow.

It's one to buy, folks. Kingdom Hearts II's soundtrack is a great success. There are a few "why?" tracks here and there, and a handful that only serve as ambient pieces, but the majority make this a truly memorable soundtrack. Kudos to Shimomura, Wada, and Utada for making this a winner.

Reviewed by: Mark P. Tjan



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